Madurai

Appeal to operate more government-owned mini buses

A private mini bus on Panagal road in Madurai.

A private mini bus on Panagal road in Madurai.   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

‘It will ease congestion and offer an affordable travel’

With government-owned mini bus services being operated merely in two routes in the city, regular commuters say more such services are needed to ease congestion and provide affordable travel.

Currently, Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) runs mini buses to connect the four Masi streets as well as a route between Periyar bus stand and Arapalayam bus stand.

The lack of mini bus services in areas where share autorickshaws monopolise transport is one of the major causes of congestion, according to S.S.A. Basha, a resident of Vandiyur, who has been advocating the need for a government-owned mini bus service in his area for around two years now.

In his area, until about six months ago, private players connected Yagappa Nagar to Mattuthavani and Simakkal.

“However, without enough patronage, they too stopped the operation. Even though private buses were far too big for the narrow roads in our areas, they were an important lifeline for the people who had to come here and go out every day,” he says.

He adds that mini buses which are used by private players often do not meet the infrastructural requirements of travelling through narrow roads as well.

“The roads in Anna Nagar, K.K. Nagar, Melamadai and Yagappa Nagar are all only about 20 feet wide. The private buses usually are 16 feet wide, and so they disallow any other vehicles to freely pass through the area,” he says.

He adds that many private mini bus operators barely get enough training to drive the vehicles. “They have knocked down at least three or four electricity posts in our neighbourhood,” he says. With a government-owned service, regular operation along the route will be assured, he says.

According to S. Sampath, State Joint Secretary, TNSTC Staff Federation, the TNSTC in Madurai should follow the Chennai model where more mini bus services are provided by government-owned transport corporation.

“By providing better service regularly along frequently used routes, we will be able to eliminate the unhealthy dependency on share autorickshaws. Most of the share auto drivers barely follow rules and often overload their vehicles, posing a major threat to other vehicle users and those in the vehicles themselves,” he said.

Mr. Sampath agrees with Mr. Basha and says that the patronage of private mini buses has dropped significantly as well due to lack operation in major routes.

“Some of the major players are barely making a sizeable profit because the standard is not good. From around 50 routes, the number has come down to 25 routes across the district,” he says.

A driver from one of the prominent private bus services, whose bus leaves from Mattuthavani bus stand, says drivers are given hands-on training before they start driving the vehicles and are mentored during their first few trips.

“Once we get used to the routes, it is easy for us to navigate. However, incoming cars or other heavy vehicles can halt traffic for a good period of time, causing a delay in our service,” he says.

He adds that their bus fleet, covered in a splatter of colour but mostly with a green body, is not worse in quality than TNSTC buses.

“Most of their vehicles are old as well and badly maintained. They, however, are allowed to go more regularly for repairs and servicing. We are not allowed just as many,” he says.

Mr. Sampath adds that if the area around Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple becomes auto-free, mini buses can take turns to keep services from Ellis Nagar parking lot to the temple regularly and quickly.

S. Rajeswaran, General Manager, TNSTC – Madurai, says they will be considering a new fleet of mini buses if there is a necessity.

“We do have around 16 buses plying from the parking lot to the temple. We also have two routes for mini buses. If there is a demand, we will consider it,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 3:39:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/appeal-to-operate-more-government-owned-mini-buses/article30504899.ece

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